Creighton vs. San Diego State 2023 NCAAB Tournament Elite 8 Odds & Picks

Ryan Kalkbrenner Creighton Bluejays Arthur Kaluma
Ryan Kalkbrenner #11 of the Creighton Bluejays reacts with teammate Arthur Kaluma #24 against the Princeton Tigers on March 24, 2023. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP.

Picks Summary:

NCAAB Pick: Creighton -2 (-113) at BetRivers

NCAAB Pick: Over 134.5 (-110) at BetMGM

It’s a very unlikely South Region final matchup in the 2023 NCAA Tournament on Sunday afternoon as No. 6 seed Creighton of the Big East faces No. 5 San Diego State of the Mountain West.

Which side of the 1.5-point spread at the NCAAB odds is the smart lean? We also have a total play. 

Creighton Bluejays vs. San Diego State Aztecs 

Sunday, March 26, 2023 – 02:20 PM EDT at KFC Yum! Center 

The first of two Elite Eight matchups on Sunday is this unexpected matchup between No. 6 Creighton of the Big East and No. 5 San Diego State of the Mountain West. This writer isn’t surprised the Bluejays made it this far but is fairly surprised by SDSU.  

These schools have met seven times previously with Creighton leading 4-3. They faced off in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament when the Bluejays were a No. 9 seed and the Aztecs a No. 8, and Creighton won 72-69 in overtime.

Then-freshman Trey Alexander converted a go-ahead, three-point play late in overtime for the Jays. He played most of the second half and all of OT with four fouls but finished with 18 points. Ryan Kalkbrenner had 16 points 10 and rebounds. Both are still key pieces of this year’s team. Matt Bradley had 16 points and eight rebounds for SDSU, and he’s the team’s leading scorer this season.  

Who Can Stop Kalkbrenner? 

We previewed Creighton’s Sweet 16 matchup against No. 15 Princeton here at OddsTrader and recommended the Tigers at +10 and the over 140 points. Alas, we went 1-1 in the Bluejays’ 86-75 victory. Princeton’s Xaivian Lee missed a free throw with 25 seconds left or it would have been a push on the spread.  

Smallish Princeton had no size to deal with 7-foot-1 Bluejays center and two-time Big East Player of the Year Ryan Kalkbrenner, and he dominated with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting. Dude is shooting nearly 71% from the floor on the season. South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman was 8-for-11 and finished with 21 points.  

The Bluejays, one of the country’s top offensive clubs, were 32-of-55 from the field (58.2%), including 23-of-31 from inside the arc (74.2%). CU also shot 81.8% from the line, sinking 13-of-16 attempts. That offense is really humming right now. Creighton is making 42% of its three-point attempts over the last two games and averaging 116 points per 100 possessions in the NCAA Tournament. 

Coach Greg McDermott is now 9-7 in eight NCAA Tournament appearances at Creighton, making him responsible for half of CU’s Big Dance wins in school history. CU’s six neutral-site wins this season have tied a school mark. 


It’s the first Elite Eight appearance for the Omaha-based school since 1941 when the NCAA Tournament had only eight teams. Here’s a weird stat: Big East teams have now won eight straight NCAA Tournament games played in the state of Kentucky. 

  • Bluejays are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall. 
  • Bluejays are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games. 
  • Bluejays are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS win. 
  • Over is 6-2 in Bluejays’ last 8 overall. 

2-0 On SDSU Picks In Sweet 16 

We previewed San Diego State’s matchup against No. 1 overall seed Alabama on Friday and recommended SDSU +7.5 and under 137.5 points because the Aztecs are so good defensively. Can’t say we thought San Diego State would win outright but it did, 71-64. 

The Tide fired up brick after brick against that defense, hitting 32.4% overall and 3-for-27 from deep. Freshman star Brandon Miller, who might not have been 100% healthy, was a brutal 3-for-19 and 1-for-10 from deep in his final game – sportsbooks favor him to be the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Entering the game, UA was averaging 13.4 points per game in fast-break points but was outscored 8-0 in the category.  

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and really staying in control. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers. Darrion Trammell led his team with 21 points. He was the third different leading scorer in the NCAA tournament for SDSU. 

Both San Diego State and Creighton were part of the Maui Invitational Tournament back in November. They didn’t play, though, as SDSU lost in the third-place game to Arkansas and CU lost in the title game to Arizona. 

The schools did share a charter flight to the event and Creighton coach Greg McDermott said he sat across from Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher and talked about wanting to face off in the national championship because “we would be OK with one of us winning and one of us losing.”  


The schools are just the 11th and 12th mid-majors (i.e. didn’t originate in a power league like Creighton or currently isn’t in one) other than Gonzaga to reach Elite Eight since the tournament field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. SDSU has never reached a Final Four. This is the first year since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that a No. 1 seed has failed to reach the Elite Eight. 

KenPom ranks Creighton two spots higher nationally than San Diego State, and we believe the Jays win a close game something like 70-67.  

  • Aztecs are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.  
  • Aztecs are 13-3-2 ATS in their last 18 games vs. a team with a winning straight-up record. 
  • Under is 16-5 in the Aztecs’ last 21 overall. 

NCAAB Pick: Creighton -2 (-113) at BetRivers

NCAAB Pick: Over 134.5 (-110) at BetMGM is your sports betting command center. Read featured betting strategy compiled from a panel of leading sports betting experts.

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